A newly confident David Gray emerges on this soulful album, his best since his “White Ladder” breakthrough 15 years ago. Gray has been through some dark ravines in his career, but he enjoys a rebirth of happiness here. “When I open my eyes now it feels like a Saturday,” he sings on the briskly upbeat first track, “Back in the World,” which continues, “Love put a joy in my heart.” That joy suffuses his music, as the sometimes cerebral Gray gets quite erotic in “Snow in Vegas” and the title cut. The music is equally persuasive: a taut mix of piano ballads that morph into orchestral triumphs, and folk styles merged with experimental, never intrusive computer programming by producer Andy Barlow of Lamb. Gray shows an emotive John Lennon edge in “Beautiful Agony,” then twists phrases like vintage Van Morrison in “Cake and Eat It.” He still flashes his intellect — two songs are inspired by poets — but most of the album reveals a romantic and spiritual bliss that feels just as good as it sounds. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Back in the World”
David Gray plays the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Aug. 1.